Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das will take classes so the evening MA programme in history that the university’s board of studies recommended to shut, is not discontinued.
The teachers of JU's history department have declined to hold classes citing work load. So Das, a historian himself, has engaged former and present teachers of history associated with other universities and fellow historians and social scientists, to take classes in visiting capacity for the evening programme.
Classes commenced from November 9 with Arun Bandopadhyay, the former Nurul Hasan chair professor of history at Calcutta University, taking the class over a digital platform.
The evening course in history, a three-year programme, was started in the 1980s primarily to enable in-service teachers in schools and colleges to pursue masters, said Subrana Das, appointed as coordinator of the evening history course. Later, it was opened to all.
The teachers of the department, after taking classes for the day courses, would voluntarily continue to take classes for the evening courses in lieu of honorarium.
Guest teachers were also engaged.
But in a meeting of the department’s board of studies held in July it was recommended that the course be shut as the full time-teachers won’t be available to contribute for the programme because of increasing workload, said a JU official.
VC Das then stepped in and constituted an advisory committee to explore an alternative way to keep the course alive.
JU has lined up an impressive list of guest teachers who have consented to regularly take classes over online mode for MA History following an appeal by the VC.
The list includes Arun Bandyapadhyay, Shantanu Chakraborti from CU, Sugata Nandi, West Bengal State University Barasat, Sahara Ahamed, RBU, Jayanta Sengupta, Curator, Victoria Memorial and former professor JU, Subhobrata Sarkar, RBU, Supratim Das, Scottish Church College and Amit Bhattacharya, formerly of JU.
Besides them, special lectures will be delivered by the likes of Rudranshu Mukherjee, historian and chancellor of Ashoka University, Partha Chatterjee, emeritus professor of Anthropology and south Asian studies at Columbia University among oters .
On Saturday evening Rudranshu Mukherjee delivered a lecture on History: Why It Matters.
“While we previously engaged guest teachers who were mostly doctorate students, now we have widened the pool of guest faculty both in terms of numbers and eminence to ensure the continuance of the course. Holistic and scientific knowledge of history is required for the development of a vibrant civil society in today’s world. Therefore it would be unjust to discontinue the course,” VC VC Das told Metro.
Would he be able to take classes, given his administrative engagement?
VC Das said he used to take classes in history even when he was a VC at Calcutta University from 2008 to 2015.
“I will take classes in modern Indian History and Indian foreign policy, my areas of specialization. If we discontinue such courses, we will be striking at the roots of education. JU believes in giving increasing access to education,” he said.
Evening courses are still run in departments like Bengali, Sanskrit under the tutelage of the parent department, he added.